Alice Ozma's The Reading Promise

This is a charming memoir about the power of reading and the roles that stories - and the ways that they are shared - shape relationships. Alice Ozma and her father have differing versions of the event that precipitated the 'Streak,' or the multi-year period that her father read to her everyday for at least ten minutes - but, regardless of origin, it grew into quite a tradition. The Streak saw Alice through her teen years and her parents separation, it helped her father maintain a lifeline to his daughter during the breakdown of his marriage, and it created a mighty bond between two avid readers. They read everything from self-help books to The Wizard of Oz. Reading together helped them to stick together, communicate, laugh, and heal.

This is a simple story with a powerful message, one that I strongly believe: read to your children. Alice's father was a children's librarian at an elementary school, and perhaps the most heartbreaking part of the book was when he retired because books were being replaced by computers. He was asked "not to read to the children" anymore, a request that shattered him. He soon found a new audience at a local old person's home. The macro and micro messages of this story are powerful, and Ozma illustrates the importance of reading not only for the parent-child bond but also for the good of society. It is a message that is all too often lost in the noise of Twitter updates, Facebook messages, and cellphones.


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